April 21, 2020  |  

High-Resolution Evolutionary Analysis of Within-Host Hepatitis C Virus Infection.

Despite recent breakthroughs in treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, we have limited understanding of how virus diversity generated within individuals impacts the evolution and spread of HCV variants at the population scale. Addressing this gap is important for identifying the main sources of disease transmission and evaluating the risk of drug-resistance mutations emerging and disseminating in a population.We have undertaken a high-resolution analysis of HCV within-host evolution from 4 individuals coinfected with human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1). We used long-read, deep-sequenced data of full-length HCV envelope glycoprotein, longitudinally sampled from acute to chronic HCV infection to investigate the underlying viral population and evolutionary dynamics.We found statistical support for population structure maintaining the within-host HCV genetic diversity in 3 out of 4 individuals. We also report the first population genetic estimate of the within-host recombination rate for HCV (0.28 × 10-7 recombination/site/year), which is considerably lower than that estimated for HIV-1 and the overall nucleotide substitution rate estimated during HCV infection.Our findings indicate that population structure and strong genetic linkage shapes within-host HCV evolutionary dynamics. These results will guide the future investigation of potential HCV drug resistance adaptation during infection, and at the population scale. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.


October 23, 2019  |  

Structural determination of the broadly reactive anti-IGHV1-69 anti-idiotypic antibody G6 and its idiotope.

The heavy chain IGHV1-69 germline gene exhibits a high level of polymorphism and shows biased use in protective antibody (Ab) responses to infections and vaccines. It is also highly expressed in several B cell malignancies and autoimmune diseases. G6 is an anti-idiotypic monoclonal Ab that selectively binds to IGHV1-69 heavy chain germline gene 51p1 alleles that have been implicated in these Ab responses and disease processes. Here, we determine the co-crystal structure of humanized G6 (hG6.3) in complex with anti-influenza hemagglutinin stem-directed broadly neutralizing Ab D80. The core of the hG6.3 idiotope is a continuous string of CDR-H2 residues starting with M53 and ending with N58. G6 binding studies demonstrate the remarkable breadth of binding to 51p1 IGHV1-69 Abs with diverse CDR-H3, light chain, and antigen binding specificities. These studies detail the broad expression of the G6 cross-reactive idiotype (CRI) that further define its potential role in precision medicine. Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Evolution of selective-sequencing approaches for virus discovery and virome analysis.

Recent advances in sequencing technologies have transformed the field of virus discovery and virome analysis. Once mostly confined to the traditional Sanger sequencing based individual virus discovery, is now entirely replaced by high throughput sequencing (HTS) based virus metagenomics that can be used to characterize the nature and composition of entire viromes. To better harness the potential of HTS for the study of viromes, sample preparation methodologies use different approaches to exclude amplification of non-viral components that can overshadow low-titer viruses. These virus-sequence enrichment approaches mostly focus on the sample preparation methods, like enzymatic digestion of non-viral nucleic acids and size exclusion of non-viral constituents by column filtration, ultrafiltration or density gradient centrifugation. However, recently a new approach of virus-sequence enrichment called virome-capture sequencing, focused on the amplification or HTS library preparation stage, was developed to increase the ability of virome characterization. This new approach has the potential to further transform the field of virus discovery and virome analysis, but its technical complexity and sequence-dependence warrants further improvements. In this review we discuss the different methods, their applications and evolution, for selective sequencing based virome analysis and also propose refinements needed to harness the full potential of HTS for virome analysis. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Differential TGFß pathway targeting by miR-122 in humans and mice affects liver cancer metastasis.

Downregulation of a predominantly hepatocyte-specific miR-122 is associated with human liver cancer metastasis, whereas miR-122-deficient mice display normal liver function. Here we show a functional conservation of miR-122 in the TGFß pathway: miR-122 target site is present in the mouse but not human TGFßR1, whereas a noncanonical target site is present in the TGFß1 5’UTR in humans and other primates. Experimental switch of the miR-122 target between the receptor TGFßR1 and the ligand TGFß1 changes the metastatic properties of mouse and human liver cancer cells. High expression of TGFß1 in human primary liver tumours is associated with poor survival. We identify over 50 other miRNAs orthogonally targeting ligand/receptor pairs in humans and mice, suggesting that these are evolutionarily common events. These results reveal an evolutionary mechanism for miRNA-mediated gene regulation underlying species-specific physiological or pathological phenotype and provide a potentially valuable strategy for treating liver-associated diseases.


September 22, 2019  |  

The role of MHC-E in T cell immunity is conserved among humans, rhesus macaques, and cynomolgus macaques.

MHC-E is a highly conserved nonclassical MHC class Ib molecule that predominantly binds and presents MHC class Ia leader sequence-derived peptides for NK cell regulation. However, MHC-E also binds pathogen-derived peptide Ags for presentation to CD8+ T cells. Given this role in adaptive immunity and its highly monomorphic nature in the human population, HLA-E is an attractive target for novel vaccine and immunotherapeutic modalities. Development of HLA-E-targeted therapies will require a physiologically relevant animal model that recapitulates HLA-E-restricted T cell biology. In this study, we investigated MHC-E immunobiology in two common nonhuman primate species, Indian-origin rhesus macaques (RM) and Mauritian-origin cynomolgus macaques (MCM). Compared to humans and MCM, RM expressed a greater number of MHC-E alleles at both the population and individual level. Despite this difference, human, RM, and MCM MHC-E molecules were expressed at similar levels across immune cell subsets, equivalently upregulated by viral pathogens, and bound and presented identical peptides to CD8+ T cells. Indeed, SIV-specific, Mamu-E-restricted CD8+ T cells from RM recognized antigenic peptides presented by all MHC-E molecules tested, including cross-species recognition of human and MCM SIV-infected CD4+ T cells. Thus, MHC-E is functionally conserved among humans, RM, and MCM, and both RM and MCM represent physiologically relevant animal models of HLA-E-restricted T cell immunobiology. Copyright © 2017 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.


September 22, 2019  |  

Gene activity in primary T cells infected with HIV89.6: intron retention and induction of genomic repeats.

HIV infection has been reported to alter cellular gene activity, but published studies have commonly assayed transformed cell lines and lab-adapted HIV strains, yielding inconsistent results. Here we carried out a deep RNA-Seq analysis of primary human T cells infected with the low passage HIV isolate HIV89.6.Seventeen percent of cellular genes showed altered activity 48 h after infection. In a meta-analysis including four other studies, our data differed from studies of HIV infection in cell lines but showed more parallels with infections of primary cells. We found a global trend toward retention of introns after infection, suggestive of a novel cellular response to infection. HIV89.6 infection was also associated with activation of several human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) and retrotransposons, of interest as possible novel antigens that could serve as vaccine targets. The most highly activated group of HERVs was a subset of the ERV-9. Analysis showed that activation was associated with a particular variant of ERV-9 long terminal repeats that contains an indel near the U3-R border. These data also allowed quantification of >70 splice forms of the HIV89.6 RNA and specified the main types of chimeric HIV89.6-host RNAs. Comparison to over 100,000 integration site sequences from the same infected cell populations allowed quantification of authentic versus artifactual chimeric reads, showing that 5′ read-in, splicing out of HIV89.6 from the D4 donor and 3′ read-through were the most common HIV89.6-host cell chimeric RNA forms.Analysis of RNA abundance after infection of primary T cells with the low passage HIV89.6 isolate disclosed multiple novel features of HIV-host interactions, notably intron retention and induction of transcription of retrotransposons and endogenous retroviruses.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing comes of age: applications and utilities for medical diagnostics.

Short read massive parallel sequencing has emerged as a standard diagnostic tool in the medical setting. However, short read technologies have inherent limitations such as GC bias, difficulties mapping to repetitive elements, trouble discriminating paralogous sequences, and difficulties in phasing alleles. Long read single molecule sequencers resolve these obstacles. Moreover, they offer higher consensus accuracies and can detect epigenetic modifications from native DNA. The first commercially available long read single molecule platform was the RS system based on PacBio’s single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology, which has since evolved into their RSII and Sequel systems. Here we capsulize how SMRT sequencing is revolutionizing constitutional, reproductive, cancer, microbial and viral genetic testing.© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


September 22, 2019  |  

A genomic case study of mixed fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma.

Mixed fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma (mFL-HCC) is a rare liver tumor defined by the presence of both pure FL-HCC and conventional HCC components, represents up to 25% of cases of FL-HCC, and has been associated with worse prognosis. Recent genomic characterization of pure FL-HCC identified a highly recurrent transcript fusion (DNAJB1:PRKACA) not found in conventional HCC.We performed exome and transcriptome sequencing of a case of mFL-HCC. A novel BAC-capture approach was developed to identify a 400 kb deletion as the underlying genomic mechanism for a DNAJB1:PRKACA fusion in this case. A sensitive Nanostring Elements assay was used to screen for this transcript fusion in a second case of mFL-HCC, 112 additional HCC samples and 44 adjacent non-tumor liver samples.We report the first comprehensive genomic analysis of a case of mFL-HCC. No common HCC-associated mutations were identified. The very low mutation rate of this case, large number of mostly single-copy, long-range copy number variants, and high expression of ERBB2 were more consistent with previous reports of pure FL-HCC than conventional HCC. In particular, the DNAJB1:PRKACA fusion transcript specifically associated with pure FL-HCC was detected at very high expression levels. Subsequent analysis revealed the presence of this fusion in all primary and metastatic samples, including those with mixed or conventional HCC pathology. A second case of mFL-HCC confirmed our finding that the fusion was detectable in conventional components. An expanded screen identified a third case of fusion-positive HCC, which upon review, also had both conventional and fibrolamellar features. This screen confirmed the absence of the fusion in all conventional HCC and adjacent non-tumor liver samples.These results indicate that mFL-HCC is similar to pure FL-HCC at the genomic level and the DNAJB1:PRKACA fusion can be used as a diagnostic tool for both pure and mFL-HCC.© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society for Medical Oncology.


September 22, 2019  |  

Two novel lncRNAs discovered in human mitochondrial DNA using PacBio full-length transcriptome data.

In this study, we established a general framework to use PacBio full-length transcriptome sequencing for the investigation of mitochondrial RNAs. As a result, we produced the first full-length human mitochondrial transcriptome using public PacBio data and characterized the human mitochondrial genome with more comprehensive and accurate information. Other results included determination of the H-strand primary transcript, identification of the ND5/ND6AS/tRNAGluAS transcript, discovery of palindrome small RNAs (psRNAs) and construction of the “mitochondrial cleavage” model, etc. These results reported for the first time in this study fundamentally changed annotations of human mitochondrial genome and enriched knowledge in the field of animal mitochondrial studies. The most important finding was two novel long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) of MDL1 and MDL1AS exist ubiquitously in animal mitochondrial genomes. Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier B.V.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long reads: their purpose and place.

In recent years long-read technologies have moved from being a niche and specialist field to a point of relative maturity likely to feature frequently in the genomic landscape. Analogous to next generation sequencing, the cost of sequencing using long-read technologies has materially dropped whilst the instrument throughput continues to increase. Together these changes present the prospect of sequencing large numbers of individuals with the aim of fully characterizing genomes at high resolution. In this article, we will endeavour to present an introduction to long-read technologies showing: what long reads are; how they are distinct from short reads; why long reads are useful and how they are being used. We will highlight the recent developments in this field, and the applications and potential of these technologies in medical research, and clinical diagnostics and therapeutics.


September 22, 2019  |  

Fluorescently-tagged human eIF3 for single-molecule spectroscopy.

Human translation initiation relies on the combined activities of numerous ribosome-associated eukaryotic initiation factors (eIFs). The largest factor, eIF3, is an ~800 kDa multiprotein complex that orchestrates a network of interactions with the small 40S ribosomal subunit, other eIFs, and mRNA, while participating in nearly every step of initiation. How these interactions take place during the time course of translation initiation remains unclear. Here, we describe a method for the expression and affinity purification of a fluorescently-tagged eIF3 from human cells. The tagged eIF3 dodecamer is structurally intact, functions in cell-based assays, and interacts with the HCV IRES mRNA and the 40S-IRES complex in vitro. By tracking the binding of single eIF3 molecules to the HCV IRES RNA with a zero-mode waveguides-based instrument, we show that eIF3 samples both wild-type IRES and an IRES that lacks the eIF3-binding region, and that the high-affinity eIF3-IRES interaction is largely determined by slow dissociation kinetics. The application of single-molecule methods to more complex systems involving eIF3 may unveil dynamics underlying mRNA selection and ribosome loading during human translation initiation.© The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


September 22, 2019  |  

Epigenetic landscape influences the liver cancer genome architecture.

The accumulations of different types of genetic alterations such as nucleotide substitutions, structural rearrangements and viral genome integrations and epigenetic alterations contribute to carcinogenesis. Here, we report correlation between the occurrence of epigenetic features and genetic aberrations by whole-genome bisulfite, whole-genome shotgun, long-read, and virus capture sequencing of 373 liver cancers. Somatic substitutions and rearrangement breakpoints are enriched in tumor-specific hypo-methylated regions with inactive chromatin marks and actively transcribed highly methylated regions in the cancer genome. Individual mutation signatures depend on chromatin status, especially, signatures with a higher transcriptional strand bias occur within active chromatic areas. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) integration sites are frequently detected within inactive chromatin regions in cancer cells, as a consequence of negative selection for integrations in active chromatin regions. Ultra-high structural instability and preserved unmethylation of integrated HBV genomes are observed. We conclude that both precancerous and somatic epigenetic features contribute to the cancer genome architecture.


September 22, 2019  |  

Hepacivirus A infection in horses defines distinct envelope hypervariable regions and elucidates potential roles of viral strain and adaptive immune status in determining envelope diversity and infection outcome.

Hepacivirus A (also known as nonprimate hepacivirus and equine hepacivirus) is a hepatotropic virus that can cause both transient and persistent infections in horses. The evolution of intrahost viral populations (quasispecies) has not been studied in detail for hepacivirus A, and its roles in immune evasion and persistence are unknown. To address these knowledge gaps, we first evaluated the envelope gene (E1 and E2) diversity of two different hepacivirus A strains (WSU and CU) in longitudinal blood samples from experimentally infected adult horses, juvenile horses (foals), and foals with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). Persistent infection with the WSU strain was associated with significantly greater quasispecies diversity than that observed in horses who spontaneously cleared infection (P = 0.0002) or in SCID foals (P < 0.0001). In contrast, the CU strain was able to persist despite significantly lower (P < 0.0001) and relatively static envelope diversity. These findings indicate that envelope diversity is a poor predictor of hepacivirus A infection outcomes and could be dependent on strain-specific factors. Next, entropy analysis was performed on all E1/E2 genes entered into GenBank. This analysis defined three novel hypervariable regions (HVRs) in E2, at residues 391 to 402 (HVR1), 450 to 461 (HVR2), and 550 to 562 (HVR3). For the experimentally infected horses, entropy analysis focusing on the HVRs demonstrated that these regions were under increased selective pressure during persistent infection. Increased diversity in the HVRs was also temporally associated with seroconversion in some horses, suggesting that these regions may be targets of neutralizing antibody and may play a role in immune evasion.IMPORTANCE Hepacivirus C (hepatitis C virus) is estimated to infect 150 million people worldwide and is a leading cause of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. In contrast, its closest relative, hepacivirus A, causes relatively mild disease in horses and is frequently cleared. The relationship between quasispecies evolution and infection outcome has not been explored for hepacivirus A. To address this knowledge gap, we examined envelope gene diversity in horses with resolving and persistent infections. Interestingly, two strain-specific patterns of quasispecies diversity emerged. Persistence of the WSU strain was associated with increased quasispecies diversity and the accumulation of amino acid changes within three novel hypervariable regions following seroconversion. These findings provided evidence that envelope gene mutation is influenced by adaptive immune pressure and may contribute to hepacivirus persistence. However, the CU strain persisted despite relative evolutionary stasis, suggesting that some hepacivirus strains may use alternative mechanisms to persist in the host. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.


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